Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray will co-chair the next meeting of the Western Zonal Council (WZC), which will have, among other issues, women safety on top of the agenda. The 25th meet of the council will be held this month under the chairmanship of Union Home Minister Amit Shah.
Maharashtra, the lead coordinator this time, will present a roadmap for the safety of women online and ways to curb cyber bullying as its priority agenda, senior officials said.
The council, functioning under the aegis of the Ministry of Home Affairs’ Inter-State Council Secretariat, comprises Goa, Gujarat, Maharashtra, the Union Territories of Daman and Diu, and Dadra and Nagar Haveli.
“This meeting will be coordinated by Maharashtra; all States take turns to chair it. We have finalised our agenda related to coastal security and other priority projects in the State,” Chief Secretary Ajoy Mehta told The Hindu .
As part of the agenda, Maharashtra will present to the council a plan for making the internet safer for women. The Chief Minister has directed the government machinery to hold awareness campaigns in districts on cyber bullying of women, cyber frauds and internet child pornography, among other internet crimes.
“The entire State must participate in the drive, to be called ‘Cyber Safe Women’, to make the internet safe for women. While there are a lot of benefits of the internet, there are some evils of this world which we need to look at seriously. Our State has prepared a special plan to ensure these crimes against women and children in the online world are prevented, a small part of which is the ‘Cyber Safe Women’ programme,” the Chief Minister announced on Friday.
The 24th meeting of the council in Goa had highlighted the need for Maharashtra to speedily investigate cases of sexual assault cases. The meeting had directed States to put in place a comprehensive security plan and improved security at railway stations. It had also discussed the implementation and mismanagement, if any, of the direct benefit transfer scheme as well as forest clearances pending for construction of the third line in the Wirpur-Sirpur section of major train projects. The next meeting could be held in Mumbai, officials said.
The five zonal councils created under the States Re-Organisation Act, 1956, are advisory bodies that discuss and make recommendations with regard to any matter of common interest for economic and social planning between the Centre and States, border disputes, linguistic minorities, inter-State transport or matters connected with the reorganisation of States under this Act. The Act provides for councils for each of the five zones: North, Central, Eastern, Southern and Western.